SOUTHEND women struggling to get pregnant will get one round of IVF treatment, but only if they are under 40.

Southend Clinical Commissioning Group has approved a recommendation to revise its policy for funding specialist fertility services - including IVF - following a public consultation.

The group previously offered eligible couples two partial NHS-funded IVF cycles for couples who are having difficulty having a baby.

On Friday, the group said “with immediate effect” it would fund one round of specialist fertility services for residents under the age of 40, unless there are exceptional clinical cases.

Dr Jose Garcia Lobera, chairman of Southend Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It has been incredibly tough decision for the governing body members to make, but we have listened to the responses of the public consultation and rather than fully restrict IVF, we are offering one cycle of IVF to those under the age of 40.

“We aware it will be a huge disappointment for people affected by fertility issues in Southend.”

The Echo reported in June last year how due to tightening financial situation, the clinical commissioning group was looking to cut IVF funding altogether.

The policy was revised following the strength of public feeling.

IVF is currently offered to about 50 patients in Southend every year, and costs about £200,000.

Dr Garcia added: “Members have considered every aspect of its decision and in particular the profound concerns that some people have expressed about revising this policy.

“But at this moment in time the CCG needs to make £10million in savings and further savings next year.

“We have to consider the complete picture for the local NHS – current demands for services are costing more than the money available.

“We have made a commitment to review the decision again in February next year and will be communicating our decision with everyone that has taken the time to respond to our public consultation.”

Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group no longer offers IVF treatment at all, while two cycles are still available for Castle Point and Rochford residents.

The treatment has success rates of between two per cent and 32per cent.

Therefore the clinical commissioning groups believe there is a need to consider the value of funding IVF compared with other NHS treatments and services.